The BB (British Blogosphere) is talking, for a change, about blogs and democracy. Oliver Kamm questions one of the founding assumptions of blogging: that it is good for democracy. He claims that actually blogging “impoverishes our democracy” because it “narrows the range of opinion presented in the public square” (normblog and Iain Dale, for the record, disagree). It might indeed be true that blogs narrow the diversity and quality of the democratic conversation; and even that they polarize opinions. But even if we concede all that, it does not follow that blogs impoverish our democracy. And this is because they do something else for our democracy; something which is, arguably, far more important than the diversity and quality of the debate: blogs promote and increase participation in the political debate. And in countries like this one with hardly half of the electorate showing up at polling stations, that is a priority. In fact, I happen to think that dilettantism, which I guess is the reason why blogs are supposed to narrow the debate, is a necessary condition to blogs enriching our democracy. And it might be no coincidence that those arguing against the democratic value of blogs happen to be somewhat professional bloggers. They, if anybody, are the problem.
blogs and dilettantismFebruary 13, 2007